10 December 2019
Former residents of Gladesville Psychiatric Hospital
honoured at memorial event
The Mental Health Commission of NSW has today paid respects to the former residents of the
Gladesville Psychiatric Hospital, with a memorial event held on the site on 10 December 2019.
Hosted by NSW Mental Health Commission, the memorial was the first time that many of the past
residents had been formally recognised, as it is the resting place of more than 1200 former patients
and some staff, many buried in unmarked graves.
NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey said: “the memorialisation of the site two
decades after its closure in 1993, is an important step forward in continuing mental health reform and
progress towards understanding why more community-based and person-led options are of the
greatest importance in NSW”.
Ms Lourey said: “It is important that as a community we acknowledge the journeys of suffering,
distress and abandonment that many of these people experienced. It is also an important time to
reflect on practices of the past and to firmly commit to never again allowing vulnerable people to be
devalued and ‘hidden away.’ We must instead focus on hope, recovery, support and inclusion in
mental health reform moving forward.”
Former resident Janet Meagher AM, who is now a prominent mental health advocate, including
through the National Mental Health Commission and at the World Federation for Mental Health,
spoke at the memorial. Ms Meagher said the memorial represented the losses of people who had
disappeared or who had sadly died as a result of their ‘treatment.’
Ms Meagher said: “I have shared some good stories, but Gladesville hospital is a symbol of the
cruelty and the victimisation of people who were already victims. It is their stories that are the fuel
for my anger about how services and systems have to change. People should never be harmed by
their care and treatment. Their memory and their courage are what drives me.”
It is the hope of the NSW Mental Health Commission that this event will stand as a moment to
remember and learn from the mistakes of the past and look forward to a future in mental health
that is guided by the voices of people with lived experience of mental health issues and caring,
families and kinship groups.
The memorial included Aboriginal cultural elements, lived experience acknowledgments, speeches
and shared stories. Speakers at the event included former residents Michael Appleton and Janet
Meagher AM, Commissioner Catherine Lourey and the Honourable Scott Farlow MLC.
Personal stories from Janet Meagher and other former residents and staff of Gladesville Hospital will
be available on the Commission website, along with photos and videos from the memorial. A list of
people who are known to have lived and died at Gladesville Hospital will also be on the website.
For media enquiries and image requests, please contact Yatu Widders Hunt, Cox Inall Ridgeway at
[email protected] or on 0402 678 798.
Photo 1: L-R Deputy Mental Health Commissioner, Tom Brideson, NSW Mental Health Commissioner, Catherine Lourey, Deputy Mental Health Commissioner, Tim Heffernan
Photo 3: Opening smoking ceremony performed by Brendan Kerin, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council